The Original Ocean House
"Our Town" by James W. Tucker
Thursday, May 8, 1952
The Beach's Largest Hotel
A few weeks ago, Kenneth Ross loaned us three pictures of the original Ocean House, built in 1844. When completely destroyed by fire on May 7, 1885, it was the largest hotel on Hampton Beach; four stories high, perhaps 150 feet long by 100 feet wide with a maximum capacity of 250 guests. Since then there never has been a larger one will never be constructed in the future. This great summer hostelry, complete with tow large cottages, a big stable and a separate bowling alley, stood on two or more acres of land fronting Ocean Boulevard just north of Church street. After the fire in 1885, the hotel was never rebuilt. Before telling you the story of the Ocean House, we would like to mention briefly a few facts having to do with the start of the summer hotel business in our town -- a business which has grown into a thriving recreational industry. And we should never lose sight of the fact that our town is one of the nation's earliest summer recreational centers.
Fishing and Boat Building
First Summer Hotels
First House on Main Beach
[In the mid 1970's(?), the "Nudd Homestead" was moved to 24 North Shore Road, and as of 1999 was the residence of Rev. Robert W. Golledge, Vicar of the Old North Church in Boston.]
David Nudd -- Hotel Pioneer
House, built in 1844 and destroyed by fire in 1885. It was the
largest hotel ever built at Hampton Beach. It was located just north
of today's Church Street. Cutler's Sea View House can be seen at
right. This also was destroyed in the 1885 fire but was rebuilt and
stayed in business many years. It went through owners and name
changes before burning down in 1985, 100 years after the first fire.
The Ocean House was probably the fifth largest hotel to be constructed on Hampton Beach and the first to be built south of Great Boar's Head. It was built by Stacy Nudd. Stacy was the oldest son of David Nudd, and David may well be considered and certainly should be memorialized as the founder of Hampton's great recreational industry. And we should never lose sight of the fact that these early hotels surpassed anything which had ever been built in this section of our country. From this small group of outstanding summer hostelries, four of which were constructed by the Nudd family, has grown one of New England's largest seaside recreational centers, containing over fifty hotels and more than one hundred gust houses. The Ocean House was successfully conducted by Stacy Nudd until it was purchased in 1866 by Phillip Yeaton, a native of Maine who had had considerable hotel experience in Lawrence, Mass.
An Unusual Hotel Owner
Halcyon Days of Ocean House
"For sports, the guests used to play croquet and I also had a bowling alley and billiard table. Bathing and horse-back riding were popular also. Coaching parties were frequent and there was good fishing and yachting.
Lobsters, Cent A Pound
Then the old gentleman went on to tell about the fire in 1885, saying, "That was a big loss to me, for I had a fine livery and horses and carriages came high in those days." After his loss at Hampton, Mr. Yeaton ran the New Winthrop at Winthrop, Mass., the Westport, at Westport, Mass., and the Lake Pleasant House near Greenfield, Mass. He retired at the age of 85 and lived the last years of his life in Blackstone Square, South Boston.
Hampton to Bar Harbor
So, with the destruction of this hotel and many cottages north of it in the first great beach conflagration, in 1885, there came to an end an epoch in Hampton Beach ;hotel history that most of us never knew anything about or, for that matter, ever heard about.
The Eldridges, the Merriams and the Pratts and others of their ilk began to patronize Bar Harbor which was just beginning to become famous after our town's beach had been catering to the elite for over sixty years. With the great fire of 1885, a new cycle began in the development of our beach which witnessed the gradual decline of the big, luxury hotels of that era and the beginning of the era of trolley and motor car transportation with all the attendant changes in the recreational business.